Of all human problems, ultimately, the greatest problem of all is our mortality. One day we will die. Add to this the ancient notion supported by modern physics that the Universe is headed toward an inevitable annihilation, and we find that humanity is subjected to and conditioned by a tremendous pessimism. Everything must come to an absolute end. Any will to permanence is an illusion. Vanity of vanities.
The more sensitive ones: the artists, the sensualists, the hedonists, call out Why? They all have a longing for permanence. “This is good and should not end,” is the optimistic attitude. And yet no-one, and nothing, can escape it.
From the dismay this causes come the religions who promise the eternity that reality denies us. The message of religion is essentially that the dictatorship of death can only be transcended through the faith in the idea of another reality – the authentic reality which is permanent.
But the faith does not change the material reality, in fact it needs its pessimistic inevitability to justify itself. However positive faith in the afterlife is, it ultimately creates a pessimism here on Earth. In fact, religious hope for the eternal in the transcendental creates a nihilistic attitude. It was a blind faith in the absolute afterlife, the Paradise of the monotheisms, that created nihilism, not the turning away from that faith.
Once the objective became to get to the Paradise, real reasons for living here on Earth were no longer important. The only thing that mattered was Absolution or Providence. The idea that humanity itself through a manipulation of the physics of reality, could prolong life expectations and control nature through understanding, were condemned as ideas that came from the Dark Side. A dark, magical side that eventually evolved into science, which offered enough illumination to return human faith to itself again.
Perhaps the most positive idea we can have at the moment is that there is no limit to what the magic of science could achieve. Perhaps eventually humanity could become immortal and even the dying Universe itself could be resuscitated by our most advanced science and technologies.
The authentic world is here, and we are tiny in it, although our minds enlarge us. But the positive idea can only be truly positive if it is seen as a possibility. The most likely future for humanity is the dystopian version and positive thinking and action have to be a contemplation of how to escape the Dystopia and arrive at the Utopia. Or to get away from the process of becoming Dystopia and more into the process of becoming Utopia.